Cyclones douse Flames in head to head clash at Rockhampton

THE Rockhampton Cyclones doused the Townsville Flames when they went head to head for the second time in two weeks in round three of the Queensland Basketball League.

Seeking vengeance for a one-point loss on the road in Townsville last weekend, the Cyclones struck back with a convincing 74-67 win, in front of a vocal home crowd at Hegvold Stadium yesterday .

Townsville started strongly and shot out to an early first quarter 17-14 lead and extended that lead to 34-31 at halftime.

By then, the offensive rebound count was 11-3 to Townsville, but the Cyclones ended up turning that statistic around to 19-17 in their favour.

While the turnover rate at halftime was very high - at 10 turnovers - the Cyclones restricted the tally to just two in the second half.

Rocket's Justin Watts gets over the top of the Heat's Matthew Rees. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Rocket's Justin Watts gets over the top of the Heat's Matthew Rees. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

"Townsville are tough this year," Cyclones coach Heath Millar said after the game.

"They're well coached and they look after the ball well.

"They also have a size advantage on us and we really struggled with rebounds in the first half."

However, the Cyclones hit another gear in the third quarter, upping the pace, defending relentlessly and using the ball well.

"That was the difference in the game," Millar said.

"It was a big second half from the girls, they adjusted well defensively, getting rebounds and looking after the ball.

"They got more shots at goal as well."

Imports Shanavia Dowdell and Chandrea Jones impressed, with Dowdell top-scoring with 33 points, and grabbing 13 rebounds, while Jones shot 25 points and got 10 rebounds.

Although the pair scored the bulk of the points, Millar said it was a well-balanced effort from his team, with different players stepping up to the plate at various stages throughout the game and working well together.

Aroon Edgar top-scored for the Flames with 19 points, while Kirby Dalgleish put up 15.

LIKE the women, the Rockhampton Rockets also sought redemption after a defeat at the hands of their Townsville Heat rivals.

Defeated 84-77 last weekend, the Rockets surged in the final quarter of yesterday's game to tie with their rivals 70-70 at fulltime, sending the game into overtime and the fans out of their seats.

It was a nail biting end to what was Townsville's second clash of the weekend - they went down to Gladstone 85-73 on Saturday night.

Rockhampton burst onto the court with a high scoring first quarter (25-9) giving themselves some leeway.

But they struggled to maintain the offensive onslaught and Townsville struck back in the second quarter, closing the gap to 33-27 at halftime.

Both sides put 18 points on the board in the third quarter, before Townsville turned up the heat in the final quarter, shooting 25 points to Rockhampton's 19, to equalise as the buzzer sounded. In the fifth period, the Rockets turned the game in their favour, making the most of their opportunities nabbing some impressive rebounds, and nailing several two-pointers, and free throws.

Despite Townsville's Todd Blanchfield and Michael Cedar landing three three-pointers in the fifth period, it was not enough as the Rockets increased the pressure, forcing the Heat to make mistakes and turn the ball over, and eventually the hosts edged ahead to win 88-84.

Stephen Weigh top-scored for the Rockets with 25 points, while Justin Watts contributed 22. Michael Kingma also put up 16 points.

For Townsville, Blanchfield and Chris Cedar were outstanding, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively.

Next Saturday, the Rockhampton Cyclones and Rockets have another home clash, against Mackay, at Hegvold Stadium. The Cyclones play at 6pm, while the Rockets tip off at 8pm.

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